Blog Entries: 1 to 10 of 12
WAGS had the pleasure to welcome for the first time, Bill Cole M.A., a passionate genealogist who has vigorously pursued his family history since 1980. He delighted our members with his basic elements of a good family history story. His grandfather, with whom he shared a birthday, provided the impetus for his love of story. He suggests recording conversations with older relative now, don’t delay.
We need to learn to expand the rich elements of our ancestor’s lives with historical detail. This will generate an interesting story to engage your readers. Find and study county histories; thousands were published in 1876 as part of United States Centennial celebrations. A good source is https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_History
. Learn about why your ancestor settled in a particular place such as a booming textile industry, working the mineral mines, the opportunity to obtain land, or a new railroad stop providing income as a town merchant. Think about subscribing to https://historylines.com/
to import a GEDCOM and obtain a time line of historical events of every ancestor on your tree.
Since we live in California, we don’t often get to visit our ancestor’s residences in other US States or countries. To get a visual on the scenery of where they lived, download for free https://www.google.com/earth/
and type in an address. It was so fascinating to walk the streets of the tiny town of Waterford, Erie, PA, current population 1,517, where on January 27th
, 1850 my ancestors Samuel B. Owen and Priscilla Lunger were married. I looked up the weather for that day in the Erie County newspaper where it was reported to be “very cold and disagreeable”. These are interesting details to add texture to your story.
In the afternoon, we also welcomed for the first time Diane Henriks. She gave WAGS members details on publishing your family history once you have written it. You need to first choose a subject or a focus such as family recipes, rags to riches stories, memoirs, or immigration tales to America.
She suggested the website https://www.lulu.com/
as the easiest, most user friendly, and one with a variety of pricing options. Keep in mind a budget since you want many family members to purchase your printed book. Even consider giving it as a gift to relatives. Color and hard back will cost more that black and white and soft cover. Creating an e-book is a good choice for younger relations who relish the digital version.
Consider placing the table of contents or index in the front of the book for easier searching. Also consider placing the page number of any details of the ancestor’s lives under any pictures. Remember to have lots of white space to make your words and pictures stand out.
She reminded us of legal guidelines such as professional photographs are copyrighted for 75 years. To use those you would need written consent of the photographer. Most magazines and newspapers are not copyrighted as a whole but Federal Government documents are copyright protected. Do you have your grandmother’s diary? If you want to publish it in your family history book, note that it is copyrighted through the life of the author plus 50 years. Perhaps think about donating the book to a local library or genealogical society.
WAGS welcomed back Sara Cochran, “The Skeleton Whisperer”, to our September meeting.
She spent the morning session encouraging genealogists to expand their research to State and National Archives. We must realize that most records are not online and some may never be put online. Research at archives should not be done by just surname, but by location, occupation, religion, school, college, military regiment or even nickname.
This website https://www.statearchivists.org/connect/resources-state/
lists the websites for all fifty states. I looked at Ohio’s online catalog at https://www.ohiohistory.org/learn/archives-library/state-archives
. For Trumbull County, there are 92 items. One item of interest is the “School enumeration and account records: 1831-1913”. The Georgia State Archives at https://www.georgiaarchives.org/
has online the “Original Colonial and Headright Plat Indices”, that were compiled between 1856 and 1859. At the Washington State Archives https://www.sos.wa.gov/archives/
for your black sheep ancestors, there are “Inmate files, admissions and Commitment Registers, and Mug shots for the Washington State Penitentiary and Reformatory from 1877-1961”. The Territorial District Court cases include abstracts of more than 37,000 cases in civil, criminal, and probate. An index includes the names of all plaintiffs and defendants.
Have you used Inter-Library loan to borrow newspapers for small towns? The Nebraska archives website https://history.nebraska.gov/
lists over 3,500 individual newspaper titles from 1854 to the present. In Idaho, the archives https://history.idaho.gov/
has digitized 200,000 images and submitted them to https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov
for 39 newspaper titles. Plus, remember to search for “Mrs. John Smith” or “Mrs. J. Smith” for women, in addition to their first names.
At our afternoon session, Sara spoke about the loss of the 1890 US Federal Census and available substitutes to fill in the gap. Search only for the states of Kentucky to Wyoming on the 1890 Veterans Schedules at https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1877095
. Each schedule calls for the following information:
Name of the veteran (or if he did not survive, the names of both the widow and her deceased husband); the veteran's rank, company, regiment or vessel, date of enlistment, date of discharge, and length of service in years, months, and days; post office and address of each person listed; disability incurred by the veteran; and remarks necessary to a complete statement of his term of service.
She also suggested searching: State censuses (often taken in years ending in 5), Newspapers, Tax records, City Directories, Estate Records, School Censuses, County Histories, and Cemetery Records.
I want to express my thanks to WAGS member Paul Moore for serving as Webmaster from 2016-2018. He stepped up to assist in the creation of the new and improved WAGS website. Rick Frohling will now serve as Webmaster along with Terry Berg and Marilyn McCarty.
WAGS welcomed for the first time, Gary Fredericksen, the President of the Sun City Genealogy Club, who spoke about the best methods to identify old photos. He was given a thumb drive with 200 family photos from a cousin. One was of special interest, since it had a family gathering of over 50 people and so far he has identified over 30 of those pictured.
Gary suggested if you have other identified photos, use them as a reference point. Also, maintain the order that the photos are presented in a book or album to perhaps gain a chronological order. Don’t separate the photos and loose those clues.
If you can, scan the photo and save a copy to your hard drive. Using this copy as a template, divide the photo in quarters. This way you can look closely to inspect for clues of those pictured like their hair styles, moustache and beard styles, clothing, hats, post marks, background signs and images, and photography studio symbols.
I have a photo of my ancestor Maud Boyce taken at H. Wade & Son in Franklinville, NY. So I need to use a city directory to find the years that the studio was in business. This could help you narrow down the year that the photo was taken. To locate a city directories try using https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/
. Did your ancestor own a photography studio? Perhaps, you can find an advertisement for their business. Do you have a photo taken in Urbana, Illinois? There were seven studios in the 1900 directory. In El Paso, Texas in 1917 there were over twenty studios.
You also can narrow down the year the photo was taken but deducing the type of photo you have. For example, in approximate periods:
- Daguerreotype: 1839-1860 (a mirror at many angles)
- Ambrotype: 1855-1865 (does not tarnish/ on a glass plate)
- Tintype: 1855-1875 (magnetic)
- Carte de Visite 1860-1890 (thin sheet of paper, glued to card stock)
- Cabinet Card 1870-1890 (size likely 6 ½ x 4 ¼ )
The September 15th meeting WAGS is back to a Morning class, Lunch and an Afternoon speaker.
WAGS July Show & Tell meeting was filled with family stories and ice cream sundaes. Show & Tell had five WAGS members present a wonderful variety of tales of their research and heirlooms.
We started with Rick Frohling sharing a fun genealogy cartoon at http://geneapalooza.blogspot.com/
to get a laugh about our obsession with finding another generation back in time. We then learned about finding Rick’s Murphy line. He thought his ancestors were Irish and immigrated during the potato famine based on family lore. In 2002, he took a road trip with Uncle Jim Murphy to Illinois to investigate this brick wall line. He broke it down when he learned these Murphy relatives were Scottish and immigrated after the potato famine, which is much easier to find than Irish Murphy ancestors. If you want to learn more about surnames, try https://www.mynamestats.com/
. Two grave stones photos and vital records of Scotland helped him find the town in Scotland where they lived. He located interesting and informative obituaries in Iowa newspapers on https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
Darlene Campbell reminded all of us to reach out to family members, NOW. Don’t wait until it is too late, as she learned with the recent loss of four first cousins. The internet provides us with a wonderful resource to locate and stay in touch with family members of all ages. So perhaps think about researching forward in time and find living descendants of cousins. You never know what stories, photos, information or experiences they have to share. Perhaps the “Black Sheep” of the family wants to reconnect with relatives. Take the time to make phone calls, write letters, send emails or even create a cousin only www.Facebook.com
Kristina Newcomer and Donna Morton displayed miniature sewing machines. The “Little Comfort”, version made by Smith and Egge was made of cast iron and still works. They originally sold for $ 2.00 and now are valued for $ 850 - $1000. Kristina used it to sew clothes for her dolls as a child. Donna presented a Casige sewing machine that had a carrying case and accessories. They produced these for over 70 years. If you want to learn more about these cute turn of the century items check out http://www.sewalot.com/sewalot_index.htm
We learned about http://www.blurb.com/
from Roger Mount. He has published memories that he began way back in 1994. He and his wife then attended the WAGS writer’s group and that inspired him to get his stories on paper to share with his family. The class used the topic of “Turning points of life” as a basis for stories. He utilized this self-publishing website to create a 72 page 6 x 9 hard back book on acid free glossy paper. This title of the book is “My life, it’s not just about me, it’s also about you”. You can also create an e-book to share with your younger family members. If you need help getting started attend the WAGS Life Story Writing Group. Meetings are held every 2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month at the Uptown Whittier Senior Center on Walnut from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.
Have you wanted to join a lineage society? In 2016, I completed the verifiable documentation to join the https://www.hollanddames.org/
. To join, a woman must be lineally descended from a person, male or female, who was born, prior to the Treaty of Westminster, 1674, either in the Netherlands or in New Netherland of Dutch parentage. I shared the documents of my 14 page 11 generation application that took me 6 months of intensive research to complete. I would be happy to assist any WAGS member in completing the documentation to join a society!
WAGS took our June General meeting on the road. Over 25 members visited the Los Angeles Central Public Library’s Genealogy collection. The Genealogy Reference librarian Julie Hoffman gave us ideas and a tour of the resources that we could only use while physically at the library. We spent over six hours perusing the stacks for family and county histories, using the library computers to search for free www.Ancestry.com
and using the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) for unique articles on www.FindMyPast.com
Many members took the time to obtain a library card so we can use at home the Access Newspaper Archives, City and Street Directories, Genealogy and Local History Index, Sanborn Maps (1867-1970), and Historical Archives of the Los Angeles Times; New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle.
Barbara Giles and her sister found a county history of their home town. Have you reviewed “MUG” books? The information found in genealogies, county, town and church histories varies greatly in accuracy and depth. Always be careful about accepting anything and everything in these books as 100 percent accurate. A lot of the town and county histories were produced for the American centennial (1876) or for the bicentennial (1976) celebrations. You could submit articles with a payment to be put in these books. So, often it is the affluent people of the time and location who appear in the books. And therefore, only the goodness of the subjects is credited, and some exemplary qualities are often very over the top.
Donna Morton spent time looking for her brick wall ancestor, Henry. He is now thought to be British not German. Has this happened to you, where a family story states one thing but research leads you to a different area? This is where PERSI can be a unique resource. The one of a kind articles in local genealogy and historical society newsletters are an underutilized resource. The website www.FindMyPast.com
has exclusive rights to PERSI. Plus many of these PERSI articles can be viewed for free at the Los Angeles Central Public Library.
Jan Berry said she had success in getting negative results in her research, so now she knows where not to continue her search. This can be a good thing. A good method to narrow down search areas is in the newspapers; these are the social media of the day. By having the Los Angeles Public Library card at www.lapl.org
, it can provide a wealth of online newspapers resources. Newspaper Archives has over 2.2 billion pages, from the 1600’s to 2018.
Roger Mount reviewed the Sanborn Maps. Founded in 1867 by D. A. Sanborn, the Sanborn Map Company was the primary American publisher of fire insurance maps for nearly 100 years. These maps include information such as the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures, location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. Did you ancestor own a business, hotel, garage, stable, warehouse or factory? Think about using these maps to learn more about their work lives.
I hope everyone who joined the field trip had an interesting and fun time at the library. If you did, please let Roger Mount know so we can think about making a library visit a yearly event.
At our May meeting, WAGS was delighted to welcome back Joel Weintraub. He gave a very informative and persuasive talk about “Ellis Island: What Really Happened”. He presented many thoughts on why the legend of “My ancestor’s name was changed at Ellis Island “is incorrect. We learned about how the passenger lists we search on the website https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org
were created in the country of origin, not at Ellis Island. The captains of these ships were fined and had to pay for return passage of immigrants for incorrect or fraudulent passenger lists.
The inspectors, who spoke at least three languages, processed up to 400 to 500 immigrants per day. A famous inspector was Fiorello LaGuardia, a U.S. congressman and three-term mayor of New York City. LaGuardia was the son of an Italian father and a Jewish mother from Austria-Hungary, and spoke Italian, German, Yiddish and Croatian.
Our afternoon session, we learned about how to prepare to search the 1950 US Federal Census. This Census will ask fewer questions than the 1940 census and the full population was asked only 20 questions. As in 1940, a 5 percent sample was asked an additional slate of questions. Just like the 1940 Census release on April 1st, 2012, there will not be a name index upon initial release. So there will likely be a crowd sourced name index created by many diligent genealogists.
This name index could take time, so Joel and his partner Steve Morse have already created tools to help us find our ancestors in this census. Their website, www.SteveMorse.org
has an easy to use “Unified 1880-1950 Census Enumeration District Finder.” It gives step by step instructions to locate the ED, so on April 1st
, 2022 when the Census is released online by www.NARA.gov
you will be able to narrow down the 1950 Census pages.
So start now to locate where everyone was living on April 1st
, 1950. Scour Naturalization Records, Employment records, Obituaries, Voting Registers, and old letters for addresses. Phone Books and City Directories are great resource, https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa
. I was able to locate my parent’s home in Torrance in ED as 19-925.
WAGS will have field trip to the Los Angeles Public Library 630 W. 5th Street with parking at 524 South Flower Street on June 16th
2018. Julie Huffman, the Librarian in the History & Genealogy Department will provide a tour of their resources at 11:00 AM. The library is open until 5:30 PM and make sure to get a free Library card and validate your parking. Prepare in advance by searching their catalog https://catalog.lapl.org/carlweb/jsp/search_page.jsp
by Surname, County or State. Pay special attention to items titled “Periodicals”; these are often genealogical society newsletters that contain unique and unusual resources. They will likely need to be pulled from the closed stacks, so have those call numbers ready.
WAGS was lucky to have Barbara Randall give two presentations at our April meeting. In the morning, we learned about the usefulness of Local History books in our research. They can be found at local libraries and Historical societies, Genealogical Societies and Family History Centers. However, she explained that many of these types of books are out of copyright and available to view and download online.
They can contain Vital Records, Anecdotal stories, Veterans lists, Land ownership maps, History of the County and Pictures. They often include biographical sketches, such as on www.Books.Familysearch.org
, I did a search for “The History of Erie County” and I found a lengthy write up of Jacob Lunger, a shoemaker, who earned enough money to buy land in Waterford, PA. So now I need to look at land records in Erie County.
Where did your ancestor immigrant from? www.Books.Google.com
has the “The History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, Ohio”; it states that the Humason family recently emigrated from New Haven, Connecticut. The “Biographical Record of Rock Island County, Illinois” published in 1897, discusses the Revolutionary War service in Massachusetts of Captain John Black. So I need to look at military records.
, is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. I found the records of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the “Woodbridge and vicinity: the story of a New Jersey township” for the 1600’s to 1700’s. Also, www.WorldCat.org
has 2 billion items and tells you where to find them in a local library or where to ask for an inter-library book loan. I found the “Biographical and Genealogical record of La Salle County, Illinois” which is housed in the Los Angeles Public Library.
Barbara’s afternoon session illustrated the benefit of asking the “How” and “Why” to obtain context of our ancestor’s lives. She suggested reviewing all the artifacts and records; analyzing and interpreting how and why of documents; and researching what is missing and where to go next.
A good way to start is to create a timeline of the basic facts of an ancestor. Then, to add context try the website www.historylines.com
, it offers two free stories of an ancestor’s lives and gives very interesting details based upon birth year and place and death year and place including items such as: wars, newspapers, education, hygiene, clothing, religion, marriage customs, diet, medicine, military, transportation, communications, politics, commerce, natural disasters, and financial crashes.
Remember when you are doing newspaper research to read the whole issue, not just the one article on your ancestor. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
is a free site that is always being updated. And remember to search by town name, initials, adding Mr. and Mrs. and significant anniversary or birthdates. I found an article about my civil war veteran ancestor titled “Comrade Samuel B. Owens celebrates his 92nd
birthday” in 1921.
Lastly, to get a geographically perspective try Google Earth to view your ancestor’s villages to see rivers, mountains, and distances between towns to see perhaps logically why a migration occurred. Also, look at plat maps to see the names of all the neighbors since these are likely marriage candidates.
WAGS welcomed Colleen Greene at our March meeting. She made wonderful suggestions on how to paint a bigger picture of Hispanic Ancestors’ lives. She gave insight on thinking about the social life and customs that focused on everyday lives of ordinary people.
She pointed us to https://www.calisphiere.org
if your roots run deep in California history; this is a digital collection from California’s great libraries, archives and museums. Did your ancestors live in Tulare County? The Sesquicentennial Photograph Collection consists of images derived from photographs contributed by individuals in the community and local museums. The photos were selected mainly for their historical interest. They represent various aspects of life in Tulare County. The photos date from 1860's to 1990's.
For a national search, try https://dp.la/
, The Digital Public Library of America. The website has 28,545 oral history interviews. There are interviews of military veterans that span the history of the US, including children of Civil War veterans. Was your ancestor a 1900’s miner, teamster or a machinist? There are over 600 interviews with people about these working conditions. Oklahoma pioneers were interviewed in the 1930’s by the WPA. These are people born in the early 1860’s!
Do you have a probate packet that includes an inventory of possessions? Think about using the “Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993” on www.Ancestry.com
to see pictures of items listed such as a Hay Rake, a Beaver Shawl, and a Cobbler Seat Rocker. Also, figure out the freight rate to buy from Sears and have it shipped to your ancestor’s home; there was no Amazon Prime.
I was delighted to present a class on Naturalization Records for our immigrant ancestors. Naturalization of US Aliens started in 1790 and the residency laws changed many times over the years. Military service could speed up the process. The documentation created in the process can be useful to genealogists. The forms generated after the year 1906 provide the most detailed family information, including place of birth, year and place of immigration, names and birth dates of spouses and children.
Women and children are special cases and until the late 1920’s, they obtained derivative citizenship from their husbands and fathers. And women could lose their citizenship, even if they were born in the United States but married a foreign born man from 1907 to 1922. The reverse was not true for men.
Federal and State Census questions can help narrow down that date of naturalization. Check out Homestead Files, since at least
of Letter of Intent was needed to purchase land. The resources on the www.FamilySearch.org
can include Letters of Intent, Petitions of Citizenship and Naturalization Certificates for all 50 states.
At our February 17th morning class, we had a panel discussion by four WAGS board members, Kristina Newcomer, Christine Cohen, Marilyn McCarty, and Rick Frohling. Program Director, Roger Mount moderated the panel with questions about their research journey.
Kristina Newcomer shared a Bridal Souvenir book with birth, marriage and death information, a Swedish Bible from her Great Aunt Alfie Ostman, a German Prayer book detailing the reasons for her GGGGrandfather’s decision to come to America, and a “Grandmother Remembers” journal. Ask your relatives if ANYONE has these types of items hiding in their closets or attics. They can be a gold mine for genealogists. Make it known that you are the family historian so nothing gets discarded.
Rick Frohling shared that city directories led to information about unknown marriages. Since these often provide the husband and wife’s name and place of employment. A good website for online resources is https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa .As an example, if you look at 1936 Boise, Idaho directory you will find Sherman, Virgil (Harriett F) Bellman Hotel Boise H 425 Jefferson St. Apt. 41.
Marilyn McCarty told of being a family historian, who loves to learn about the family stories. She and her sister learned unknown details of their mother’s life when they found of box of old family papers. This is the only place where these family vital records are found. If you are interested in journaling family stories come to the March 17th meeting to learn about software to get you started https://www.rootsmagic.com/Personal-Historian/Essentials/
I spoke about https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page which should be the primary website to learn about genealogy resources. They are digitizing records every day and I found the 1825 Washington County, NY State Census images are available to browse. I was able to locate my ancestor John A Cline and his brother Milton Cline. This helped me narrow down a marriage date based on the ages of the children listed.
Our afternoon speaker Gregory Beckman told the story of the 3 Beckmann brothers from Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach. We learned how he corrected the information of the headstone of Civil War Veteran Augustus Beckmann, who was buried as Augustus Bergman at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. He fought in the battle of Shiloh, was taken as a POW and died at Camp Dennison, Ohio.
Greg found a newspaper article in the Cincinnati Commercial Times, dated April 19, 1862 about the USS Monarch that brought the Confederate POWS to Ohio. Did you have POW ancestor? Check https://www.newspapers.com/ to see if there is an article about their arrival at a POW camp. Greg used the resources on https://www.fold3.com/ for the service records and muster rolls as documentation of the burial error.
Camp Chase is considered a National Cemetery and CSA soldiers are considered veterans. Camp Chase therefore, falls under the umbrella of the National Cemetery Administration https://www.cem.va.gov/cem/grants/veterans_cemeteries.asp In December 2015, Greg provided them ten items to demonstrate their headstone error. And by December 2016 a corrected headstone with the name Augustus Beckmann was installed in the cemetery.
At the January meeting WAGS welcomed for the first time John Garside, TV Station Manager at the City of Whittier. He has over 20 years of professional experience in TV production. If you visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_aWR3-YwGsgCk_f1Zky43Q
you can for free watch a dozen “Forgotten Tales” that focus on the little known history in and around Rancho La Puente and Whittier.
He shared with WAGS members video clips and told interesting stories about the Whittier Earthquake in 1987 where he interviewed the famous “Mustang” owner; The Battle of Providencia that has a battle recreation that includes a real cannon being fired; Gay’s Lion Farm that had over 250 lions kept in the City of El Monte; The Electrodome about trying to manipulate the weather with lightning bolts; and the Crash of Flight 416 where he found plane parts in Turnbull Canyon.
Have you ever explored https://www.youtube.com/
to see if other historians have uploaded videos about your ancestor or communities that you are researching? I searched for “Woodbridge, New Jersey History” where my Freeman family lived. It had over 3,000 results including uploads from the Historical Association, the Salamander Brick Works and 350 Years of New Jersey History. How about ethnic groups? Try a search for “Palatines”. You get 1,210 results about German Palatines, Mohawk River, and Pennsylvania German American Culture. Plus a search of “Genealogy” has 236,000 results. There are videos form NARA.gov, BYU FHL, and Ancestry.com. You can spend all day watching, learning and expanding your research skills from your home.
After 1820, lists are available with limited information such as name, age, year and place of arrival. “Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500’s – 1900’s”
by William Filby can be a good starting point and it is searchable on www.Ancestry.com
The biggest port of entry is New York, especially after 1825 and the opening of the Erie Canal. However, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans should be researched. Look for clues as to the date of entry in Federal and State censuses, Voter Lists and Homestead applications.